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At Evolving CNN, Lifestyle Is News

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CNN is moving into the lifestyle and food programming arena, and the network is adding new advertisers in the process.

The move is part of a new strategy CNN is pursuing in reaction to its faltering ratings in primetime.

“Broadening the scope of news means providing more travel, health, wellness and lifestyle programming that quite honestly we’ve done very well with in the past, so we’re going back to our roots a little bit,” says Greg D’Alba, president of CNN News Networks and Turner Digital ad sales and marketing.

The strategy is meant to make CNN “essential every day, not just when there’s breaking news and not just when we’re in a political season,” D’Alba says. “As we go to market with these strategies, we’re looking for bigger deals and agencies to recognize us and provide options for any brand across this entire roster of news.”

One of the first shows in the new vein is Parts Unknown, starring bad-boy chef Anthony Bourdain, whose show had been on the Travel Channel, owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, the leader in lifestyle programming.

Food is a natural avenue for CNN, D’Alba says. “Food takes us to more places within more cultures than most competitors are capable of providing,” he says.

The new programming is already attracting ad dollars in new categories.

MillerCoors, a big advertiser on other Turner networks but not on CNN, signed as a launch sponsor of Parts Unknown; BMW also signed on as a sponsor of Bourdain’s show. Similarly, CNN Films is attracting non-traditional sponsors. Procter & Gamble, for example, is sponsoring the film Girl Rising.

D’Alba expects the lifestyle programming to win back viewers who left news to watch other nonfiction-based content.

“You look at upscale, affluent-reaching programs across the board that are non-news based, we’re going to draw more of those consumers,” D’Alba says.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.